Price (RRP): $599.95
Manufacturer: Bowers and Wilkins
Most people associate Bowers and Wilkins with high-quality audio performance. A precious few may have even experienced B&W’s legendary 800 Series Diamond speakers used in Abbey Roads Studios. Now, the Bowers and Wilkins PX7 BT/ANC headphones – tuned by the 800 Series engineers – offer a taste of this legendary sound quality.
The Bowers and Wilkins PX7 is an over-the-ear headphone with Bluetooth 5.0, Adaptive Noise Cancellation, Ambient Pass-Through and enhanced Wear Sensing technologies. According to Bowers and Wilkins, the the PX7’s are “…designed to deliver the highest quality personal mobile audio experience, with the convenience of wireless operation and the serenity of noise cancellation.”
We’ll reveal our thoughts on this later in the review, however, some of the standout features of the Bowers and Wilkins PX7s include its largest-ever 43.6mm drivers; a 30-hour BT/ANC battery life; carbon fibre materials; and a Wear Detection mode that pauses/resumes playback when you take them off/on.
Design and comfort
Visually, PX7 makes a great impression. There’s an attractive combination of cloth and premium metallics on the earcups, both adorned by the B&W logo in polished silver.
The memory-foam lined headband joins the two arms made from an unusual woven carbon fibre composite. This material was chosen instead of metal to cut down on weight while ensuring strength and durability – plus it adds a nice visual point of difference. We reviewed the Space Grey model, and there’s an attractive Silver for those who want a lighter impression.
The PX7 weighs 310 grams, which is a little on the heavier side compared to the 255 and 275 grams of the Bose Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM3. The added weight is likely due to the large 43.6mm drivers. Still, when wearing for four hours straight, they didn’t feel weighty or uncomfortable.
The earcups can be rotated both vertically and horizontally to ensure a good seal. The headband applies perhaps a little too much squeeze on my head, however, this tension will loosen off over time.
One minor gripe is that the PX7 does not fold down completely flat – they protrude slightly outwards. This necessitates a bulker travel case. This might be a little more difficult to slide into the outer pocket of a bag while in transit. Still, it’s good to see that the semi-soft carry case is durable and should provide ample protection.
No aeroplane dual-pin adaptor plug is included, and this is unfortunate, especially if you’re travelling on Qantas that still need the double-pronged attachment on their entertainment systems. It would be very frustrating to be on a 14-hour flight and find that you can’t use your headphones to watch movies.
While there’s a standard 3.5mm jack, the Bowers and Wilkins PX7 is designed predominantly for wireless use. It supports the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard.
It is the first headphone to use Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec. This is essentially a way to deliver the high audio performance of a cable connection over a wireless signal.
Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive bitrate scales between 279kbps and 420kbps for CD and Hi-Res quality music. These bitrates are lower than the 352/576kbps of aptX and aptXLL/HD. It has low latency (80ms), which is good for watching movies or playing games.
To use aptX, you need a recent Qualcomm-based Android phone/tablet. iPhone/MacBook uses the in-built AAC codec, and for the rest, it is the SBC codec. However, most of us tend to listen to compressed MP3 ‘lossy’ music so even with BT 5.0 we are not getting close to using its full potential.
For those that would like to learn more about Qualcomm’s new aptX Adaptive, check out the following link.
The PX7s can pair and remember up to eight different devices, and connect to two simultaneously. This comes in handy, for example, when connected to your computer and phone at the same time, so you can listen to music via your PC’s library but take a call from your phone without disconnecting from one device and swapping to another.